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The Effect of Childhood Verbal Abuse on Adults

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“The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, whether through malice or ignorance, remains branded in his memory” (Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 2005). Verbal abuse is an issue that plagues many Caribbean households. It is believed that children living in loving households will often times grow up to become happy adults while those children who are verbally abused are more likely to suffer from serious psychological problems in the long run. Childhood victims of verbal abuse grow up to become adults that suffer from low self-esteem, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Adults that experience verbal abuse as children usually develop self-esteem issues. Mueller (2008) purported that the verbal abuse of children has lasting consequences and usually affects the psychological development of adults. As a result, children who are verbally abused will eventually identify with the negative opinions that they hear and develop low self-esteem. For example, a child who is constantly being labelled and criticised by their parents will eventually believe the label as they cannot see things as they are and grow up to become adults who suffer from low self-esteem. Therefore, words are powerful tools that help to shape an individual’s character as it can either make or break them.

Additionally, early verbal abuse leads to depression later on in life. Individuals who are raised in verbally abusive households are more likely to suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety than those who are not. This is because the verbal attacks that are meted out on a child, especially by someone that they hold in high regard will result in them constantly blaming themselves and focusing on the negative aspects of life. Consequently, children who are verbally abused grow up with a lot of stress and have anxiety issues, often times leading to depression. Therefore, this exposure to verbal abuse has negatively impacted the lives of the children living in the household as it creates some serious psychological issues, some of which cannot be reversed.

Furthermore, the adults that experienced verbal abuse in their childhood years are likely to develop suicidal thoughts (Thomason, 2018). As a result of the insults that are directed to an individual, they may isolate themselves and feel as if they have no one to turn to. This is because their safe haven has become destroyed as the family environment is no longer a place of security. Additionally, they may believe all the negative comments made about them in the past, causing them to feel worthless and that their life is meaningless, thus resulting in them having suicidal thoughts. Therefore, the children are the ones that will suffer the most when the family environment becomes a place of deprivation and pain.

Undoubtedly, the family environment plays an important role in the lives of the children living in the household. Children who are verbally abused do not grow up in a nurturing environment and as a result become adults whose psychological functioning is affected. Therefore, children who are verbally abused usually battle low self-esteem, depression and suicidal thoughts in their adult years. 

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